News

Bill Lee Plans Jan. 19 Inauguration

Governor-elect Bill Lee has announced the schedule for his inauguration next month, The Nashville Post reports. The events will mostly be held on Jan. 19, beginning with a worship service at the Ryman Auditorium followed by the inaugural ceremony at Legislative Plaza at 11 a.m. The oath of office will be administered by Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Bivins.
read more »

News Report: Detective Accused of Beating Handcuffed Man Had History of Violence

The Hamilton County detective suspended this month for severely beating a handcuffed man has a history of violence, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Blake Kilpatrick — who is under investigation by the DOJ after video surfaced of the beating — was previously accused by his then-girlfriend of bursting into her home and hitting her. Kilpatrick also allegedly kicked down his and his ex-wife's door in 2011, then vandalized their home. Records show that he was never arrested or charged in those incidents. Kilpatrick’s attorney, who is also defending him in a wrongful death suit filed in 2017, said that he is investigating the incidents and working on a statement. Charley Toney, who was beaten by Kilpatrick after being arrested, suffered a collapsed lung, a broken finger, a broken nose and several broken ribs. 

read more »

Hawkins County Board of Education Approves Gay-Straight Alliance for High School

The Hawkins County Board of Education has voted in favor of a Gay-Straight Alliance student organization at one of its high schools, despite strong opposition from one of its members, the Kingsport Time-News reports. The organization was approved 5-1, with the lone holdout being Tecky Hicks who is a pastor at the First Baptist Church in Surgoinsville. Hicks, regarding the constitutionality of denying the group, was reported as saying the Bible supersedes the Constitution of the U.S., the Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, school board policy, the state constitution “and everything else.” Several board members voiced concerns that denying the alliance would open the county up to lawsuits, with County Attorney Jim Phillips and the board’s lawyer Lawrence Giordano agreeing that the county would likely lose in litigation. Board member Chris Christian said of the organization, “Could it provide a venue to prevent tragedy, to protect this child who has no family support or no one to reach out to? That’s why I serve on this board, for the betterment of the children. I’m not questioning what these kids are going to do, but if there’s an ounce of hope of saving someone, a child, I would have to vote yes.”

read more »

Ethics Board Recommends Censure for Former Nashville Mayor Barry

The Metro Nashville Board of Ethical Conduct recommended at a hearing today that former Mayor Megan Barry be censured for unethical conduct related to her affair with a police sergeant assigned to protect her, The Tennessean reports. The complaint was filed by an activist focused on policing reforms, who claims that Barry acted unethically in office because her affair was with an officer. It will now be up to the Metro Council to decide whether to censure Barry.
read more »

Department of Ag. Announces Recipients of Its Agriculture Enterprise Fund

The Tennessee Department of Agriculture on Monday announced six new recipients of the organization’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund. The initiative is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Governor’s Rural Task Force, which aids new and expanding Tennessee agriculture, forestry, and food businesses, particularly in the state’s rural counties. Recipients must exhibit potential for impact on local farm income, access to markets, increased capacity, or agricultural innovation, with a primary focus on distressed counties. “The Agriculture Enterprise Fund program has made an economic impact of more than $25 million for our state since we first began to award these grants one year ago,” said Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton. “While we are proud of the successes so far, we are excited to see the continued opportunities and new jobs that will result from this program.”

read more »

Animal Shelter Director Arrested on Cruelty Charges

A Cocke County animal shelter was raided by authorities this month resulting in animal cruelty charges for its director, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. Terry Starnes, who oversaw the Friends Animal Shelter in Newport, was arrested by the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office after they found an emaciated and dehydrated coonhound that was half the ideal weight for the breed. The coonhound was taken in by another area shelter, Steele Away Home Canine Foster and Rescue, which is caring for the dog. Investigators also noted that there were other dogs that appeared “underweight and in poor condition” and areas of the shelter appeared to be “in need of cleaning.” Friends Animal Shelter President Anne Fontaine reportedly said that Starnes arrest was unfair because he is working with sparse funding, little help and too many animals.

read more »

Forrest Descendants Sue Memphis Over Statue

The descendants of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest have filed a lawsuit against the City of Memphis, demanding the return of a statue of him that was removed late last year, The Commercial Appeal reports. The descendants want the city to pay for the return of the statue to a location of their choosing, as well as return "all pedestal, base, burial vault, copper caskets, and the earthly remains of General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife Mary Ann Montgomery Forrest." They want an unspecified amount in compensatory damages for the "embarrassment, humiliation, and mental anguish caused by the defendants."
read more »

More Than 100 Nominated for Nashville Police Oversight Board; Mayor Adds His Picks

Nashville Mayor David Briley named his two nominees for the new Community Oversight Board, which will provide citizen oversight of police. The Tennessean reports. Briley chose Phyllis Hildreth, an administrator at American Baptist College, and Bob Cooper, former Tennessee Attorney General. The city had received more than 100 public nominations leading up to today's deadline for submissions. The Metro Council will take up the slate of nominees to choose the 11-member panel next month.
read more »

Shelby Election Commission Moves to Dismiss Germantown Mayoral Candidate Complaint

The Shelby County Election Commission filed a motion to dismiss a complaint filed by Germantown mayoral candidate John Barzizza, saying his claims for a recount are without merit, The Daily Memphian reports. Barzizza filed the lawsuit after the Nov. 6 municipal election, challenging Mike Palazzolo's 120-vote win by claiming 543 absentee votes were cast in the Germantown election, while only 476 were counted. The election commission states the facts in Barzizza’s complaint are false, but if they were true, he still would have lost to Mike Palazzolo by 50 votes.

read more »

Join Us Today: LAW TECH

Today's the day! Discover the newest technology for your law practice and law office at this year's Law Tech Blast at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville!

The flexible open house format allows you to create your own schedule. You can attend CLE sessions, enter to win prizes, network with attendees, visit with sponsors and interact with speakers. Take as many or as few CLE hours as you need. Only those seeking to be awarded CLE Credit will be charged. The registration desk will be open all day, so you can come and go for the hours you need when it is convenient for you. Attendees can earn up to 6.5 hours of Dual CLE credit.

CLE TOPICS:
  • GDPR, Cloud and Technological Competency
  • The Bill and Phil Tech Show 2019: BEAT THE CLOCK
  • Best Practices: Information Security for Firms
  • Judicial Panel: Technology in the Courtroom
  • Know When to Hold 'Em
  • Digital Evidence – A Technical Life Raft for the Legal Mind
  • Make it Rain: Ethics Guidelines and Practice Essentials

ATTEND TO WIN: Attendees will have a chance to win prizes, including an iPad Pro. The tech prize drawing will be held at the 10:30 a.m. break. Must be present to win.

TAKE A LYFT: TBA has partnered with Lyft to offer attendees a discounted ride.

  • New to Lyft?: Get $5 off 2 rides at http://lyft.com/i/lawtech5 or download the app and enter code LAWTECH5
  • Already Have Lyft?: Save 10% off 2 rides to or from Law Tech Blast with code LAWTECH

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS & EXHIBITORS:


 

read more »

Give the Gift of TBA Membership

Give yourself (or a friend) the gift that keeps giving — one-year of unlimited access to professional development opportunities and a number of programs and services designed to help you become a better practitioner. Founded in 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association is dedicated to enhancing fellowship among members of the state's legal community. Oh, and did we mention some of the benefits? Earn three pre-paid credits to use on any live or online course featured in the 12-days of CLE. Join now!

read more »

Services for Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley on Saturday

Services for Sevierville Mayor Bryan Atchley, who passed away last week from cancer, are set for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16 at the First Baptist Church Sevierville, with a visitation on Saturday, Dec. 15 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Atchley’s Funeral Home, WBIR reports. Atchley, who had served as mayor since 1995, was instrumental in the growth of Sevierville, building a new City Hall and police station, Smokies Stadium, convention center, expanding the greenway system, even bringing a double-A minor league baseball team to the city. “Mayor Atchley was Sevierville to the core,” said Sevierville City Administrator Russell Treadway. “From coaching youth baseball to being Mayor, and everything in between, he exemplified public service and proved there are hundreds of ways to serve one’s community.” Vice Mayor Robbie Fox will serve as Mayor until the next election in May 2019.

read more »

Governor Haslam, Governor-elect Lee Oppose Closed Primaries

Governor Bill Haslam and Governor-elect Bill Lee both have voiced opposition to a closed primary resolution put forth by the GOP's state executive committee earlier this month, the Tennessean reports. The resolution asks the General Assembly to "address the issue of 'cross-over' voting in Tennessee’s primary elections," to prevent concerns of an opposing party influencing the other’s election. Gov. Haslam when speaking to the crowd at a Nashville Rotary meeting said “I am strongly opposed to that … If you're a Republican, I think it's a silly proposal." Lee made similar comments, saying “I would be willing to look at whatever the legislature says, but on the surface, I don’t see a reason to make a change.” Closed primaries have been a contentious issue in the state for decades and a similar resolution was voted down by the executive committee in 2015.

read more »

Woman Files Lawsuit Against Rutherford County Regarding Guilty Plea in Child Abuse Case

A woman who pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse in 2007 is suing the Murfreesboro Police Department and Rutherford County, claiming the plea was made under duress, The Daily News Journal reports. Catherin Funk-Vaughn filed the pro se lawsuit in federal court on Nov. 28, asking for $9.9 million, alleging she thought that she was pleading to a diversion charge — not a guilty plea — and that her attorney told her the only way she would see her children again was if she pleaded guilty. She also says her name was misspelled as “Catherine” on court documents, making them void and claims violations against several of her constitutional rights. Funk-Vaughn has also filed a separate suit against the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services.

read more »

Tennessee AG's Office Names New Chief Deputy

Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III announced Jonathan T. Skrmetti will join the attorney general’s office as the Chief Deputy in January. In his new role, Skrmetti will coordinate and oversee the substantive legal work of all five sections of the office. Skrmetti joins the office from Memphis where he has been a partner with Butler Snow LLP, an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law and an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee.  In that role he investigated and prosecuted civil rights crimes and white-collar offenses.
read more »

Casino Planned for Tennessee, Virginia Border

Private investors intend to convert a failing Bristol, Virginia, shopping mall into a casino, resort and convention center, The Business Journal reports. The city built The Falls shopping center with taxpayer dollars in hopes to compete with the booming retail sector of its sister city in Tennessee, adding $48 million to the city’s debt and creating a heavy bond-debt. Investors believe the project will be a boon to the local economy, creating somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 jobs in the area. The total conversion is expected to cost $300 million to $400 million.

read more »

Downtown Memphis Development Board Approves First TIF Property

The Center City Revenue Finance Corp., a state-chartered industrial development board in Memphis, recently approved its first tax increment financing initiative, the Memphis Business Journal reports. The Union Row project will develop around 800 apartments, 200 hotel rooms and 460,000 square feet of mixed-use office and retail space in a location between South City and Downtown. Construction is set to start in June 2019, with the first phase scheduled for completion by June 2021.

read more »

Meigs County Landowners Fight TVA Land Access

A Meigs County landowner is fighting back on TVA’s plans to run a high-voltage transmission line across his property, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. Georgetown farmer Greg Vital has filed a suit contesting U.S. District Court Judge Sandy Mattice's grant of a temporary easement allowing access to several properties to survey potential tower sites for the transmission line, which will serve the organization's new 185,000-square-foot power control center in Chattanooga. TVA maintains that it chose the rural Meigs County site to provide greater security and make it less vulnerable to electromagnetic pulse attacks or other potential threats to TVA's power grid.

read more »

Nashville Passes Ordinance Limiting Use of Proceeds From Property Sales

The Nashville Metro Council voted 34-0 last week to prohibit the sale of real property owned by Metro government to pay for city operating expenses, the Tennessean reports. Mayor David Briley had proposed the sale of three Metro properties in June, with the proceeds going to the 2018-19 city budget, however, those sales did not materialize. Under the new ordinance, revenue from the sale of city-owned properties will go toward paying off the city’s debt.

read more »

Cottrell Named First Nashville Chief Compliance Officer

Former Court of Appeals judge and onetime Nashville law director Patricia Cottrell is now set to become the city's first-ever chief compliance officer, The Tennessean reports. An appeals court judge from 1998 to 2014, Cottrell was announced today as Mayor David Briley's pick for a new position that will oversee a "comprehensive review" of ethics regulations in the city's procurement process — and whether they're being followed — among other responsibilities.
read more »

Lawsuit Brews Over Memphis Council Member Walkout

The Memphis City Council’s impasse over appointing a new member is on its way to Chancery Court after four of the 10 council members walked out of Tuesday's meeting, leaving the body without the necessary quorum to vote on anything, The Daily Memphian reports. Four council members walked out after the council deadlocked through two more rounds of voting over an appointment to fill the District 1 seat. Council member Worth Morgan made the motion Tuesday to go to court "to compel attendance of absent council members to conduct the city's essential business."
read more »

Governor-elect Lee Names Agriculture Commissioner

Governor-elect Bill Lee on Monday named his pick for agriculture commissioner, selecting current state veterinarian and Middle Tennessee dairy farmer Charlie Hatcher, the Tennessean reports. The announcement was made at the annual Tennessee Farm Bureau convention in Franklin, where Lee said, “Charlie brings tremendous perspective about our state’s rural resources and agricultural way of life … What happens in rural Tennessee matters to all Tennesseans, and Charlie has the experience to carry out the administration’s key priorities in agriculture and rural economic development.”  As state veterinarian, Lee enforced animal health standards for livestock products and worked with federal officials to accredit Tennessee's practicing veterinarians.

read more »

TVA Seeks Public Input on Future of Coal Ash at Allen Fossil Plant

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is currently accepting public input regarding options for the closure of its coal ash storage areas at the former Allen Fossil Plant near Memphis to assist in developing an environmental impact statement, according to a press release on its website. TVA estimates that almost 3 million cubic yards of coal ash and other coal combustion residuals remain in the ash impoundments at the site, which was closed in March. 
 
Comments may be submitted online, or sent by email or mail to Ashley Farless, NEPA Compliance Specialist, Tennessee Valley Authority, 1101 Market Street, BR4A-C, Chattanooga, TN 37402. To be considered, comments must be received no later than Jan. 4, 2019. All comments will become part of the project's administrative record, including the names and addresses of those who participate.
read more »

Former Rutherford Judicial Building Could House Police, City Court

The former Rutherford County Judicial Building could soon be home to a Murfreesboro City Court and a police precinct, The Daily News Journal reports. Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland said that the current City Hall is out of space, and the old county judicial building could help alleviate the problem. County officials are also exploring new uses for the building, which is located on the city square and was replaced by the new Judicial Center earlier this year.
read more »

Germantown Mayoral Candidate Files Complaint Over Election Results

John Barzizza, a Germantown alderman who ran for mayor, has a filed a complaint asking for a recount of the results of the Nov. 6 election, The Commercial Appeal reports. The complaint was filed against the Shelby County Election Commission and administrator Linda Phillips, claiming that the election commission failed to distribute, allow, verify and tally absentee and provisional ballots properly. Barzizza challenged Mayor Mike Palazzolo for Germantown's highest seat and lost by 120 votes, according to the results certified by the election commission on Nov. 26. 
read more »